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Parole board blasted

November 19, 2013

WOONSOCKET – After serving 13 years of his 35-year sentence, thrill-killer Alfred A. Brissette Jr. was paroled from the state prison Tuesday to a halfway house in Narragansett.
Dave Mellon, president of the Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers, criticized Brissette’s release, calling it “a get out of a jail free card” issued by the parole board.
“This is worse than good time,” he said. “This is just the parole board showing no accountability.”
Brissette and Marc Girard, both city natives, were sentenced to state prison in the 1999 slaying of Jeannette Descoteaux, a crime the late Supreme Court Justice John Bourcier called a “brutal, barbaric and utterly senseless thrill kill.”
The parole board voted in favor of granting Brissette early release in June 2012, but it backed away after victims rights groups and RIBCO sharply criticized the move. Although they affirmed the decision about eight months ago, parole officials called for Brissette to refine a release plan containing specifics on where he planned to live and work after he was released and the type of rehabilitative services he would seek.
Matt Degnan, the parole board administrator, said the parole board found the plan satisfactory, but he declined to elaborate and offered no rebuttal to RIBCO’s critique. He said “the board approved the plan and that’s all we’re saying at this point.”
Said Mellon, “Unofficially what we’ve been told is that he will be released to a halfway house known as the Galilee Mission in Narragansett. I don’t know about you, but if he was coming to my community, I’d want to know.”
State Sen. Dawson Tucker Hodgson, a Republican whose District 35 includes Narragansett, joined the chorus of opposition to the parole board’s decision on Brissette.
“Thirteen years for this kind of heinous crime is not justice. It’s not even close to justice,” he said. “I’m obviously not pleased that someone with this record of violence is being release in our community.”
While Brissette may have special conditions of his parole, such as a curfew, “he is a free man under the laws of the state,” Hodgson said. “That’s where the system has really broken down.”
Hodgson, a former prosecutor, is planning to seek the Republican nomination for attorney general in the 2014 election. He said letting the murderer out early “was just a bad decision by the Parole Board. They had every legal basis in the world to deny him parole.”
Part of the problem, Hodgson believes, is that the office of Attorney General Peter Kilmartin failed to send a representative to Brissette’s parole hearing to oppose his release. He said, “The system is there for people who can’t stand up for themselves.”
Amy Kempe, spokeswoman for Kilmartin said, “In the Alfred Brissette case, the facts were so egregious and so well known that it should have been apparent to the parole board that Mr. Brissette should not have been granted parole.” READ THE FULL STORY IN WEDNESDAY'S CALL.

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